Motorola: Google Android Play Isn't 'Make Or Break'


On the eve of Motorola's expected unveiling of its two Google Android- based smartphones, the head of Motorola's Mobile Devices Division has said that the struggling smartphone maker's Android play won't "make or break" the company.

Earlier this year, Motorola said it would focus heavily on Google Android, the open-source mobile operating system, in a bid to stem the tide of poor device sales and slumping revenue. Motorola's Android play is an effort to recapture the luster the Schaumburg, Ill.-based company held in the early 2000s when the Motorola Razr cell phone took the handset market by storm and sold record numbers.

And while Motorola's San Francisco Google Android event, scheduled for Thursday at the Mobilize 2009 conference at the Mission Bay Conference Center, may highlight the company's mobile device future, Android smartphones aren't the only trick up Motorola's sleeve, Sanjay Jha, Motorola co-CEO and head of its Mobile Devices Division, told the Chicago Tribune.

"It is an important launch, but I think it is possible to overstate the importance of it," Jha told the Tribune in an interview. "We're not anymore in a phase where one product will either make or break this company. What we're trying to do is build a portfolio of products."

Jha's lack of urgency, however, comes as Motorola's handset division continues to hemorrhage money and all eyes are on Jha, who joined the company in August 2008 to pump life back into the Mobile Devices Division. Thursday's Google Android event will showcase the first devices to come under Jha's leadership.

Motorola's Google Android devices, which are expected to come in the form of two new smartphones, the Motorola Sholes and the Motorola Morrison, also face stiff competition from a host of other device manufacturers that are placing their hands firmly in the Google Android cookie jar.

Motorola rival HTC has been nothing short of an Android powerhouse. The Taiwanese device maker that once sat in the background as an OEM for North American carriers has staked claim to Android in the U.S., churning out a handful of hot smartphones with Google guts, including the T-Mobile G1, the T-Mobile myTouch 3G and the upcoming HTC Hero, which will land on Sprint's network next month. Globally, HTC has several more Android-based devices either available or on the way, including the HTC Tattoo, which is expected to launch in Europe next month and in other locations later.

Elsewhere, device manufacturers like Acer, Samsung and a host of others have been reportedly working on Google Android handhelds.

Motorola's Jha, however, said Motorola's Android lineup will stand out from the pack. And it will also help Motorola crack back into the smartphone segment, a part of the mobile device market where Motorola has struggled. All told, Jha said Motorola has tens of smartphones ready to go for 2010 to capitalize on the continued growth of the smartphone market.

"We have to differentiate by addressing the needs of a particular segment extremely well," Jha told the Tribune. "You'll see us launch devices that address ... five to six segments, and address them with precision in such a way that folks who have those needs will say, 'How did I live without this solution?' "